Ignoring is Bliss

Ignoring is Bliss

An essential technique in time management is one which people like you and me risk being scolded for: ignoring.

A few weeks ago, I read a very interesting article in the Harvard Business Review on how “The Most Productive People Know Who to Ignore” by Ed Batista. He underlines that, while prioritizing, i.e. ranking our tasks according to importance and urgency is essential, it is even more imperative to understand that we should ignore those requests “whose importance falls below a certain threshold”. A prerequisite for that is knowing who to ignore. Now, here it gets tricky. The decision-making process involved in waxing off some requests and tasks from the hairy to-do list can invoke feelings of guilt and anxiety. After all, who likes to be ignored? Bad karma might fall upon us, ensuring that we, too, will eventually get ignored in return. This underlines how crucial it is to understand that learning how to ignore is part of the process of knowing who or what to ignore.

Ignoring important deadlines certainly does not fall into the category of ‘useful ignoring’. Yet, acting like the Terminator on tasks that are neither important nor urgent, meaning eliminating them from our To-Do list, will help us regain control of our actual To-Do’s. At the core of the efficiency of managing our lives is our self-management. If we allow ourselves to manage those emotions stirring up a guilty conscience, we can decide actively whether we want to answer somebody out of courtesy although the request or task might not be that urgent or important in the first place. Or we can decide to just not answer, doing it mindfully and actively. Ignoring. Eliminating unimportant requests and tasks might not always be easy in a world in which our professional worth at times is measured by our ability to do all. Yet, it can help us managing our time wisely.

Ensuring our own efficiency can be a heavy process. Not only do we have to actively diminish the amount of work that still lies in front of us like a huge Turkey for Thanksgiving, but also chewing that meal means getting rid of the bones and other parts that should not enter our stomach. Having written this though, I very much hope nobody will ignore me, and instead post comments.

Photo credit: by Brooke Novak found on flickr.com